Boondoggle Consulting 101: The right answer is the one the client wants!

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Economic impact studies: instruments for political shenanigans – Eric Dexheimer, Austin American-Statesman

In the mid-1990s, the City of Galveston hired John Crompton to assess the economic benefit the city received from its Mardi Gras festival.

Located on a barrier island, the city has a single entry point, over a causeway. Crompton simply compared the number of people crossing the bridge on the weekends before and after the festival with the traffic count on the two Mardi Gras weekends. The difference came to about 80,000 visitors.

So he was surprised a few months later to read an article boasting that Mardi Gras lured 800,000 visitors to Galveston.

Unsatisfied with Crompton’s numbers, the city apparently had hired another consultant willing to deliver better news by counting every car that crossed the bridge on the festival weekends, even though many were regular commuters.

If one consultant won’t give you the analysis you want, just hire another one!

That’s an important operating procedure to keep in mind in light of the recent news that local authorities have commissioned a $500,000 study to try to figure out what to do with the Astrodome.


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